First Thursdays

First Thursdays are monthly festivals showcasing the diversity of arts and humanities on campus and throughout the Bloomington community. On the first Thursday of each warm-weather month, the Council and its friends join together on the Arts Plaza (right in front of the IU Auditorium) for an evening of performances, hands-on creative activities, community-building, great food, and fun!

First Thursdays offer a welcoming environment for students, community members, four-legged friends, and artists and scholars of all kinds. Our festivities have included everything from opera signers to breakdancers, stage-fighting to clay-throwing, and much, much more. Each First Thursday is unique, and each is a great opportunity to experience the wonderful work of artists, performers, and scholars from all across campus and all around town.

Join us November 7th as we celebrate the public reopening of IU's amazing Eskenazi Museum of Art! 

IU Students, you can add your creative vision to the festivities by taking part in our Art Costume Contest! Come dressed as your favorite artwork or artist, and win cool prizes!

Enjoy main stage performances from the IU Symphonic Band, Jacobs School jazz vocalist April Varner, and visiting Haitian mizik rasin band Boukman Eksperyans.  

Plus, stop by the Lilly Library to see some of the greatest hits from their collections, visit the Humanities Salon for enlightening discussions, and check out the exciting activities all around the Arts Plaza. As always, there will be plenty of great hands-on creative activites, delicious food, and fun for the whole community!

Scenes from the September 2019 First Thursday Festival. 

November 7th Inclement Weather Notice

Due to cold tempteratures and rain in the forecast, the November 7th First Thursday Festival will be moved indoors.  Activities will take place in several buildings around the Arts Plaza, including IU Auditorium, the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the Lilly Library, and the Fine Arts Building. 

First Thursdays are supported in part by:


Main Stage Performers: IU Auditorium

Boukman Eksperyans

Boukman Eksperyans is a mizik rasin (roots music) band that regularly tours the world as a favorite on the world music circuit. Founded in Haiti 40 years ago, the group merges traditional Haitian instruments and sacred Vodou rhythms with rock and reggae. Co-founders Lòlò and Manzè (Théodore Beaubrun, Jr. and Mimerose Beaubrun) have long been deeply invested in their community through their scholarship on Haitian cultural and spiritual practices. In particular, they are known for their environmental activism and their strong commitment to fostering civic participation in democracy.

The popular band is set to perform this public concert as a special event in conjunction with the IU Bicentennial (1820-2020) and the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) 2019 Annual Meeting, which will take place in Bloomington from November 7-10. The group also comes to the Bloomington campus as part of a week-long residency in partnership with IU’s Platform Arts & Humanities Laboratory and Global Popular Music Team from November 7-12. This residency will feature events such as an appearance at IU’s First Thursdays event on November 7, a dance and drumming workshop in coordination with the African American Dance Company, and visits to several classes on IU’s campus.

More about Boukman Eksperyans

IU Symphonic Band

The IU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Eric M. Smedley, is honored to be part of the re-opening of one of Indiana University’s crown jewels: The Eskanazi Museum of Art. They will perform works written for brass ensemble, selected for their celebratory nature. Brass instruments have been a key part of ceremonial and celebratory events for centuries, and the ensemble is excited to share a mix of fanfares, marches, and concert music aimed at commemorating this special day.

More about IU Symphonic Band

April Varner Quartet

The April Varner Quartet is made up of Jazz Studies majors at the Jacobs School of Music. It features April Varner on vocals, Lucas Fain on piano, Henrick Zhang on bass, and Greg Niemi on drums. The group plays a wide variety of repertoire, and today we will be performing various jazz standards and arrangements from the Great American Songbook! 

More about the April Varner Quartet

Ed Kabotie

Ed Kabotie is a multi-faceted creative from the Hopi village of Shungopavi and the Tewa village of Khap’o Owinge. As his Hopi father and grandfather before him, Kabotie’s art takes the forms of paintings, drawings, and overlay jewelry. He is also a gifted musician, incorporating a variety of instruments and languages to create moving compositions. Kabotie describes his performances as ‘edutainment’, combining stories about the lands of his nativity with music and visuals. He says, “My burden is to carry the message of the plight of the people and lands of indigenous America to an ever-widening audience. Through the mediums of art and music, I share the courageous stories of my people.”

Acoustic Stage: Eskenazi Museum of Art

In celebration of the public reopening of the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the November Acoustic Stage will be held inside the museum and feature a diverse mix of performers from IU and the Bloomington community. Musical acts inside the museum include:

  • Caroline Robinson, harpist
  • Garrett Spoelhof and Charlie Harriman, jazz duo
  • The Solomon Keim Quartet, featuring Solomon Keim, Garrett Spoelhof, Carter Pearson, and Chris Durham
  • Monika Herzig Trio, featuring Monika Herzig, Peter Keinle, and Camilla Mennitte Pereyra

Around the Arts Plaza

Eskenazi Museum of Art

Public Reopening!

Be the first to experience your museum. Explore seven galleries of art, including new works. Visit our new Art-making studio. Experience our new Centers for Education, Conservation, and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Celebrate with fun art props at our Selfie Station. Enjoy a scavenger hunt, a welcome tour, poetry-on-demand, live music, an artist talk from architect Susie Rodriguez, and more.  Free hot chocolate and hot apple cider at the new Arboretum Entrance starting at 7 p.m. Celebrate this milestone with us!  Doors open for all at 4 p.m.

More about Eskenazi reopening events

Lilly Library

Old Books, New Beginnings

The Lilly Library invites you to join us for one last First Thursday extravaganza before we close for renovations on December 6, 2019. For one night only, we will bring our legendary vaults to you for a last look at some of our favorite treasures before our building closes to the public and research services move to our temporary space in the Wells Library. Our expert librarians and conservators will be on hand to show off some of our favorites: medieval manuscripts, children’s classics, historical documents, and weird wonders. We’ll “flip the bird” with John James Audubon one last time and answer all your questions about where you can find us next year. Help us say goodbye to our library in the best way we know how: with lots of books and plenty of great stories.

More about Old Books, New Beginnings

Grunwald Gallery & Friends of Art Bookshop


Remembering and Forgetting

Remembering and Forgetting is a collaboration with The College of Arts and Sciences “Themester 2019”. Memory is a rich theme in the history of art and many contemporary artists employ it in their studio practice. This exhibition explores the diverse methods artists use to engage with this theme . 

Jerald Jacquard: Art is Life 

Jerald Jacquard is a Bloomington, Indiana artist and Indiana University emeritus faculty with a distinguished career of close to sixty years. This exhibition will contain key paintings, sculptures, drawings and maquettes from many stages of his career.

Plus, the Friends of Art Bookshop will be open throughout the First Thursday festival in Fine Arts 120!

More about Grunwald exhibits

Worlds of John Wick Conference

Moving Image Archives

In an interview regarding John Wick, director Chad Stahelski makes one goal clear: “We just wanted to isolate and show you a hidden world, and believe in the mythology.” But world-making can be accomplished by way of various strategies, and in Ways of Worldmaking Nelson Goodman asks a salient question: “The many stuffs—matter, energy, waves, phenomena—that worlds are made of are made along with the worlds. But made from what?” The “stuffs” that comprise the John Wick films’ “hidden world” open it to investigation from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. And John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum has not only achieved critical success—and taken the franchise’s box office over the $500 million mark—but also added dimension to this world and its mythology.

Film scholars, designers and architects, art historians, folklorists, literary critics, and others will address these and related topics at a conference to be convened at Indiana University Bloomington from November 7-9.

More about the conference

IU Cinema

Honking Horns and Jazzy Feet: Music and Dance in the Streets

This series explores street music and dance traditions of the Americas, bringing an ethnographic eye to New Orleans and Chocó, Colombia. All three documentaries featured in the series celebrate the various reasons communities come together through public performance. Honking Horns and Jazzy Feet is presented by the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Latin American Music Center, in conjunction with the Society for Ethnomusicology’s 64th Annual Meeting and concurrent pre-conference symposia “Film as Ethnography, Activism, and Public Work in Ethnomusicology” and “Heritage and the Politics of Inclusion in Latin American Brass Bands.”

Tickets and more info

Media School

Q&A With Wildlife Photographer Gavin Thurston

Gavin Thurston, an Emmy award-winning cameraman, will discuss his work in the film industry and as a cameraman, as well as his new book, “Journeys in the Wild — The Secret Life of a Cameraman.”

He’s also speaking at TedxIU at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Thurston specializes in wildlife photography, and he has worked from all seven continents and the North and South poles. His work includes “Our Planet,” “Planet Earth,” “The Blue Planet,” “Life” and “Africa,” and he has worked for BBC and Animal Planet, among others.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are required, and seats are limited.

Register for the Q&A

Inside IU Auditorium

Campus and community organizations will offer a variety of hands-on activities and arts experiences to fuel your creative spirit.

Maker Stations: Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design

The Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design's Creative Core will present various Surrealist Drawing Techniques used to free the imagination from conscious control and tap into the unconscious mind as a source of inspiration. Stations will be set up for visitors to participate in a variety of drawing processes while visiting.

Makerspaces: Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering

Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering’s Makerspaces will have a table open at the First Thursdays Festival. Please stop by and check out the 3D printers, soldering irons, and a variety of other tools. We will have 3D prints for you to take home. Don’t miss this opportunity!

African American Arts Institute

Bootsy Collins is coming to IU to host Potpourri of the Arts on November 9! Who's Bootsy Collins!? Only one of the most legendary musicians to ever live! Bootsy rose to fame as James Brown's bassist, is a member of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, and is recognized as a pioneer of funk music. And he's coming to IU!

Visit the African American Arts Institute's booth at First Thursdays for a funky experience: dress up in some Bootsy-inspired sparkly swag, take a photo to be added to our collage, and be entered to win a ticket to see the legend himself in concert at the Potpourri of the Arts on November 9 at the IU Auditorium.

Potpourri of the Arts Tickets

Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Come see and touch some of the drums featured in "Sacred Drums, Sacred Trees: Haiti's Changing Climate" (curated by Dr. Rebecca Dirksen) on exhibit at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. This same style of drum will be heard during the performance by Boukman Eksperyans.

First Year Experience

Students who stop by the FYE table can write their name down for tickets to the Potpourri of the Arts. There will be suckers and other candy students can grab. Stop by!

Center of Excellence for Women & Technology

Visit the Center of Excellence for Women & Technology table to learn about who we are, pick up some awesome swag, and try out our new 3D printing pens! We will be giving out water bottles, headphones, stickers, pens, microfiber cloths and more!

First Nations Educational and Cultural Center

Ed Kabotie, Hopi artist, singer, song writer, will be at the FNECC tent performing and talking about his art and music.

Human Computer Interaction/Design

Graduate students from the Human Computer Interaction/Design program at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering will be here to introduce the program. They will also display the capstone projects they are working on and organize fun research activities for people to participate in.

Indiana Geological and Water Survey

Indiana's identity is rooted in its diverse landforms and expansive landscapes. From the dunes of Lake Michigan to the fossiliferous banks of the Ohio River, our geological resources and natural features have shaped Hoosier history for more than two centuries. Explore all that Indiana has to offer with the Indiana Geological and Water Survey's geoheritage booth. Discover new hiking trails, explore unseen specimens, and share what geoheritage means to you.

Indiana Review

Indiana Review will be playing Literary Pictionary! We'll have famous books and literary quotes for you to draw and/or guess. Play for candy, play for lit cred. We'll also be selling issues of IR at discounted prices.

IU Auditorium Outdoor Box Office

The IU Auditorium remote box office will be open to purchase tickets to STOMP, Chimes of Christmas, Straight No Chaser, or any of the upcoming 2019–2020 season events. Also stop by for a chance to win tickets to see STOMP live at IU Auditorium on November 14.

IU Cinema

Visit IU Cinema to discover the many transformative cinematic experiences that await you during the fall 2019 semester. Pick up a fall program booklet, get information about volunteering opportunities, test your knowledge with music in movies trivia, and more! And don’t forget to stop by the IU Cinema to check out our free screening: Los sonidos invisibles (The Invisible Sounds) (2007) and Velo qué bonito (Look How Pretty) (2014).

IU Corps & Center for Rural Engagement

Join us in thanking deployed members of the Indiana National Guard by making handmade 'Thank You' cards. IU Corps will be providing pre-cut paper, embossing plates, and die-cuts to create one-of-a-kind cards that will be mailed to service members during the holidays. Each card will include a pre-approved message and have room for personalization to spread holiday cheer!  

IU Libraries

Librarians from the Wells Library's Government Information, Maps, & Microform Services and Scholars' Commons will highlight connections to the region's Native American heritage through interactive maps and library resources.

IU Press

Indiana University Press is celebrating its 70th anniversary this school year! We’re celebrating in many ways, including a fantastic sale of our awesome books at First Thursday! Stop by our booth to check our great reads and deals. While you’re there, learn more about what we’ve been up to for the past seven decades--prize-winning books, distinguished scholarship, and so many famous and influential authors!

La Casa Latino Cultural Center

We will be playing lotería and dominoes!

Moving Image Archives

Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive is partnering with the Media School to bring cameraless filmmaking to First Thursday! Learn how to create a work of art directly on the surface of 16mm film using a variety of techniques. Stick around to see your unique creation projected with a Kodak Pageant projector! Afterwards, get a glimpse into IULMIA's collection of vintage movie cameras. You won't want to miss this celluloid sensation!

Office of International Services

Stop by the Office of International Services booth to practice your chopstick skills and test your knowledge on countries and their signature dishes for your chance to win an OIS brandana. How many foods can you correctly match to their country?

Political and Civic Engagement

Stop by the PACE booth to "talk democracy" with staff and students, and register to vote as part of the Big Ten Voting Challenge.

Summer Language Workshop & Language Flagships

Come sample traditional teas and snacks from China, Kazakhstan, and Morocco, and learn about the Language Workshop and the Language Flagships at IU.


This year's Themester is focused on "Remembering and Forgetting." Take a moment to explore your memories. What is your first memory? What is your best memory from childhood? What do you think you'll remember from IU in 20 years? Enjoy a tasty treat and pick out a free Themester 2019 poster while you reflect and share your thoughts for a virtual exhibit on Themester social media.

Raas at IU

Raas at IU will be sharing their passion for dance and their South Asian/American culture at November's First Thursdays.  Raas-Garba is a dance art form from the Western Indian state of Gujarat.  Participants will get a chance to learn some basic Raas-Garba steps and how to spin dandiya, or the sticks they dance with.  Participants can also stop by Raas at IU's booth for henna.  Come learn about Raas at IU, get your heart rate up, and learn about the culture we're so proud to embody!

Residence Hall Association Eco Representatives

Come talk to the Residence Hall Association Eco Representatives about climate action! Participants will have the opportunity to evaluate their lifestyles and come up with one way to challenge themselves to live more sustainably this month. Once they have decided on a challenge, they can write it on a "leaf" and add it to our tree mural!


TEDxIU hosts an annual conference, and this year our theme is "Entropy, the descent from order to chaos." We will be playing Jenga to simulate this transformation and promoting our conference which takes place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre on November 8th.

Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Stop by the Buskirk-Chumley tent to chat with us about all our volunteer and employment opportunities, get yourself a temporary tattoo of our marquee, tell us who you want to see next, and meet the "Dancing Dog Bone" in person!


The NOISE Project table will feature opportunities for student involvement with NOISE and documentation of past events at our mulimedia gallery space and venue downtown. 

Humanities Salon: IU Auditorium

What are the Humanities? Are they the disciplines equipped to analyze and answer questions about human experience and the human condition, like history, world languages, and cultural studies? A set of methodologies for reaching answers about these questions? The study of the texts and works of art humans have produced over the millennia? What can the Humanities tell us about current trends and issues such as "Old Town Road," The Lion King, and avocado toast? 

Visit the Humanities Salon to converse with faculty from departments around campus and learn how different humanities disciplines answer these and other questions.  Participants can earn vouchers for free coffee and free resuable mugs, courtesy of SOMA!

Central Eurasian Studies

Join the Association of Central Eurasian Students to learn about the peoples, cultures and languages of Central Eurasia. Learn about different Central Eurasian languages and their different alphabets, check out our collection of Central Asian hats and see if you can guess where they come from, and find out about the different courses offered by the Central Eurasian Studies Department.

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies + Department of Spanish & Portuguese

The Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese will host a joint exhibit on the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. We will serve traditional sweets associated with the holiday and allow students to create papel picado (paper cut-outs typical of the holiday). We will also give away calavera (skull) laptop stickers and have calavera coloring activities for kids.

Dhar India Studies

Make a wearable button with a greeting in an Indic language! Get a henna "tattoo!" Learn about spring activities in the Dhar India Studies Program!

Medieval Studies Institute

At the “Making a Medieval Book” booth, the Medieval Studies Institute will offer hands-on demonstrations of how books were made before the invention of print technologies. Come and try your hand at writing with a quill, binding a book, ruling a page, deciphering medieval handwriting, and coloring in an illuminated image.

Russian and East European Institute

The Russian and Eastern European Institute will be showcasing dances and music from various regions of Eastern Europe, as well as art from the area. We have invited dancers from IU International Folk Dancers to teach interested students some fun and easy dances primarily from the Balkans. We will also have coloring pages of art works by artists from Eastern European and Russia that are on display in the Eskenazi Art Museum.


The English Department is offering prizes! Inspired by the re-opening of the art museum, we are asking you to draw. Our challenge is based on the game, Pictionary (meets Fictionary). Bring a visual rendering of a novel's title: if we can guess the novel, you win a prize! Alternatively, we'll have supplies on hand, and you can draw something at First Thursday. You draw, we guess: you win!

Indiana Studies

Tell Us a Secret!

Indiana Studies is a part of Platform: An Arts & Humanities Research Laboratory. Our research focus this year is “The Secret & Lost Histories of Indiana.” So we want to know your secrets! Come by our booth in the Humanities Salon, write or draw on a notecard, and add it to the board as we construct a secret history of our own.  

Festival Sponsor Booths: IU Auditorium

Hard Truth Hills

Join the Hard Truth Hills Crew for a fun game of ringtoss! Prizes include stickers, candy, and more. While you play you'll learn all about the myriad of incredible experiences Hard Truth Hills has to offer.

Upland Brewing Company

Explore the intersection of beer & biology with Head Sour Brewer, Eli Trinkle. Sour ales are more than a refreshing beverage, they are a careful process requiring time, microbiology, fermentation, water, and malts. Get funky with Upland and learn all about it!


IU Dining will offer FREE hot chocolate and cider in front of IU Auditorium during the festival.  Plus, IU Dining's Stripes food truck will offer a tasty menu of festival foods.